How to get pay-boosting skills without going broke


The economy’s supposed to be really good, if you look at the official numbers. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the unemployment rate was under 4 percent in July, which is a level that is often used to describe “full employment.” Everybody who wants a job has one.

Except … not really.

The system isn’t working the way it’s supposed to for working people. Typically when so many people have jobs, pay goes up.

But that’s not happening – at least not anywhere near the appropriate level. The Labor Department reported last month that if you look at median weekly earnings and factor in inflation, the typical worker is just treading water.

And what about the future? Having a job and making a living are not the same thing. The cost of a four-year degree rose about 25 percent in the last decade, according to the College Board, to $34,740 a year. Meanwhile, student loan debt Is exploding.

So wages are flat and traditional schooling is expensive. What are you going to do if you’re not already in the job you want?

Joining Jon Fortt to help you make your plan: Laura Pappano is an education reporter writing in the New York Times, the Hechinger Report and more. Rachel Carlson is co-founder and CEO of Guild Education, a company that helps employers offer education as a benefit to employees, kind of like health care. Clients include Walmart, Lowe’s, Taco Bell and Chipotle.

And finally, joining us from Cambridge Massachusetts, Anant Agarwal is an MIT professor and CEO of edX, a free-to-learn platform.

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